The Old Lizard by Federico Garcia Lorca

Photo from Imablog

In the parched path

I have seen the good lizard

(one drop of crocodile)


With his green frock-coat

of an abbot of the devil,

his correct bearing

and his stiff collar,

he has the sad air

of an old professor.

Those faded eyes

of a broken artist,

how they watch the afternoon

in dismay!


Is this, my friend,

your twilight constitutional?

Please use your cane,

you are very old, Mr. Lizard,

and the children of the village

may startle you.

What are you seeking in the path,

my near-sighted philosopher,

if the wavering phantasm

of the parched afternoon

has broken the horizon?


Are you seeking the blue alms

of the moribund heaven?

A penny of a star?

Or perhaps

you’ve been reading a volume

of Lamartine, and you relish

the plateresque trills

of the birds?


(You watch the setting sun,

and your eyes shine,

oh, dragon of the frogs,

with a human radiance.

Ideas, gondolas without oars,

cross the shadowy

waters of your

burnt-out eyes.)


Have you come looking

for that lovely lady lizard,

green as the wheatfields

of May,

as the long locks

of sleeping pools,

who scorned you, and then

left you in your field?

Oh, sweet idyll, broken

among the sweet sedges!

But, live! What the devil!

I like you.

The motto “I oppose

the serpent” triumphs

in that grand double chin

of a Christian archbishop.


Now the sun has dissolved

in the cup of the mountains,

and the flocks

cloud the roadway.

It is the hour to depart:

leave the dry path

and your meditations.

You will have time

to look at the stars

when the worms are eating you

at their leisure.


Go home to your house

by the village, of the crickets!

Good night, my friend

Mr. Lizard!


Now the field is empty,

the mountains dim,

the roadway deserted.

Only, now and again,

a cuckoo sings in the darkness

of the poplar trees.

About Jonathan Losos

Professor and Curator of Herpetology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. I've spent my entire professional career studying anoles and have discovered that the more I learn about anoles, the more I realize I don't know.

One thought on “The Old Lizard by Federico Garcia Lorca

  1. A lizard ran out on a rock and looked up, listening
    no doubt to the sounding of the spheres.
    And what a dandy fellow!
    the right toss of a chin for you and a swirl of a tail!

    If men were as much men as lizards are lizards
    they’d be worth looking at.

    D.H. Lawrence

    Undoubtedly an Old World species but it sounds right for Anolis.

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